October is Pet Wellness Month

October is Pet Wellness Month

 

Back in 2004, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) started Pet Wellness Month along with Fort Dodge Animal Health. The purpose of the campaign, which has been held each October for the past 12 years, is to educate people on the pet aging process and the importance of preventive care exams. According to the AVMA, dogs and cats age at a rate that is five to seven times that of humans. It recommends bi-annual wellness visits for this very reason.
 
At the very least, senior pets over the age of seven should come in twice a year for a check-up. This is the time when Dr. Palmquist starts looking for age-related issues such as arthritis, diabetes, hip dysplasia, and kidney disease. Although younger pets can develop these conditions as well, they are much more prevalent in the senior population. Puppies and kittens also need to be seen more often than once a year. This is necessary to monitor their growth and get them started on a vaccine schedule.

What to Expect at Your Pet’s Preventive Care Exam
State and federal laws require dogs and cats to have certain vaccinations. For dogs, these include canine adenovirus, canine parvovirus, distemper, and rabies. Required vaccines for cats include feline calicivirus, feline panleukopenia, rabies, and rhinotracheitis. You also have the options of several optional vaccines, such as Lyme disease and feline leukemia. Dr. Palmquist considers your pet’s species, age, general health, lifestyle, and unique risk factors when recommending specific non-core vaccines. 

In addition to checking vaccine status and administering original vaccines or boosters, the preventive care exam is the ideal time to discuss protection from parasites. Preventing your pet from being infested with fleas, ticks, heartworms, or other common parasites is much better than having to treat them after the fact. We also inspect the following areas on your pet: 

Teeth, gums, jaws, and mouth to look for tooth decay, oral tumors, and other common problems 
Urinary tract to spot any infections 
Reproductive system 
The nose and eyes to look for allergy symptoms 
The condition of the coat and skin 
Legs, paws, and paw pads 
Stomach to determine any gastrointestinal problems 

This is not an all-inclusive list, but gives you a good idea of the type of head-to-tail exam you can expect at Grantsburg Animal Hospital or Wild River Veterinary Clinic. If we spot any areas of concern, we will let you know the plan of action to diagnose and treat it. We know you love your pet and want to see him or her live a long and healthy life. Our staff is happy to help you achieve that goal. 

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September 28 is World Rabies Day

September 28 is World Rabies v1

The 10th annual World Rabies Day takes place on Wednesday, September 28 this year. Started by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA), the purpose of this event is to raise awareness about the symptoms and prevention of the deadly disease of rabies. Approximately 6,000 animals and more than 50,000 people contract rabies each year. Although most human victims live in underdeveloped nations, animals who get rabies are often domesticated pets in the United States. As serious as this disease is, the AMVA is trying to stress the point that it’s entirely preventable.

How Do Dogs and Cats Develop Rabies?

Your pet acquires rabies through contact with the saliva of an infected animal. When domesticated pets get the disease, it is typically due to being bitten by a bat, coyote, fox, raccoon, or skunk. Dogs and cats who live near wooded areas or who are allowed to roam outdoors without supervision are at the highest risk of being bitten by an infected wild animal. Keeping up-to-date on your pet’s vaccine schedule and limiting unsupervised time outdoors are the best ways to lower the risk of acquiring rabies.
 

Common Symptoms of Rabies
Most dogs and cats display the first symptoms of rabies two to eight weeks after contact with an infected wild animal. These include: 

Aggressive behavior 

Disorientation 

Foaming at the mouth 

Fever 

Jaw and throat paralysis 

Increased biting, chewing, or licking of the skin 

Irritability 

Pain when someone touches them 

Personality changes 

Seizures 

Some domesticated animals die suddenly shortly after contracting rabies, but it is more common for the disease to progress at a slower pace. However, some of these symptoms may also indicate the presence of another illness. That is why it’s important to contact us at Grantsburg Animal Hospital immediately if your pet displays even one of them.
 

Prevention: Because Rabies Has No Cure or Treatment
If we confirm rabies in your pet, he or she should be euthanized as soon as possible. This not only prevents needless suffering, it also protects other people and pets from getting the disease. You also need to contact the Burnett County Health Department to report the rabies diagnosis.
 
Wisconsin state law requires that all pets be fully immunized against rabies. At Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic, we give the first round of vaccinations at four months of age for puppies and kittens. The cost is just $19. We also provide boosters and can get your pet caught up on the rabies vaccination if necessary. Our veterinarians have had two bats test positive for rabies within the past few years, so the danger is ever present. 

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Keep Your Hunting Dog Safe This Season

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According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, several short hunting seasons started on September 1 with many more beginning in October and November. Although state regulations prevent hunters from bringing a dog along with them when hunting certain prey, most seasons are open to hunting dogs. Whether you’re planning to hunt deer, turkey, small game, or another type of animal, it’s important to review safety tips for your hunting dog before you head to the woods. 
 

Keep Your Dog Safe Out There 

Your dog needs a blaze orange vest while hunting just like you do. It allows other hunters to see him in addition to protecting his vital organs in case of an accidental shot or getting caught under a barbed wire fence. Here are some other tips from the Pet Poison Helpline based on the type of calls the organization receives during each hunting season: 

 
Your dog may get very excited while hunting with you and dart off to catch prey before you can stop her. If you don’t use an electric shock collar while hunting, make sure she has a microchip as well as identification tags securely attached to the collar. This prevents the tags from getting caught on a fence. 
 
Even though we’re headed into fall, heat stroke is still a big concern early in the hunting season. Be certain to pack a canine first aid kit that contains a thermometer so you can assess your dog’s body temperature. Additionally, stop for frequent water breaks if you notice him panting often. 
 
Well in advance of your trip, program the phone number to a local veterinarian, emergency veterinarian, and the Pet Poison Helpline. The latter can be reached at 1-855-764-7661. 
 
Provide fresh drinking water for your dog rather than allowing her to drink from a pond. Hundreds of hunting dogs each year die as the result of drinking from bodies of water contaminated with blue-green algae. Your dog will become sick immediately with vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, jaundiced skin, and weakness. Sadly, death can happen in a matter of minutes. 
 
Do not allow your dog to chew on clay pigeons. They contain heavy metals such as copper, lead, nickel, and zinc as well as coal tar that can be toxic if ingested. Poisoning from the materials found in clay pigeons can result in damage to your dog’s liver, kidneys, and brain. 
 
Be on the lookout for mushrooms that your dog may try to eat. Although some are perfectly harmless, others can cause abdominal pain, depression, tremors, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures. Some dogs even develop long-term liver or kidney damage from eating toxic mushrooms. 

Needless to say, you need to seek immediate emergency care if your dog is shot or grazed by a bullet. Fragments left in the body can elevate blood levels and cause chronic lead poisoning. We also encourage you to schedule a preventive care exam for your dog before you head out hunting this year. 
 

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Obesity May Cut Your Pet's Life Short

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According to a 2014 study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 53 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats are overweight or obese in the United States. This is truly staggering when you look at these percentages in actual numbers, which is 44 million dogs and 55 million cats. A pudgy pet may look adorable, but the reality is that even a few extra pounds on an animal could have serious health consequences. The most common weight-related medical conditions in dogs and cats include:


• Cancer
• Heart Disease
• High Blood Pressure
• Insulin Resistance
• Kidney Disease
• Ligament Injury
• Osteoarthritis
• Respiratory Disease
• Type II Diabetes
 
Additionally, being overweight or obese can shorten the lifespan of pets by up to 2.5 years. That is a lot of time to lose when most pets don't make it out of their teens in the best of circumstances.
 
So Why Are Pets Getting Bigger?
With two-thirds of Americans having a body weight that falls into the overweight or obese category, it's not too surprising that their pets are putting on weight as well. Part of the problem is that people don't recognize when their dog or cat weighs too much. When a pet owner leads a sedentary lifestyle, their pet isn't likely to get the exercise and stimulation he needs to remain at a healthy body weight. Long hours at the office leaves little time for physical activity, even when both owner and pet desperately need it.
 
Another problem is that dog and cat owners overestimate the amount of food their pet actually needs in a day. They leave full bowls of food out for pets to eat whenever they want and immediately fill the bowl when it gets empty. Some animals naturally overeat when given the opportunity.
 
The caloric needs for pets is much lower than it is for people. A cat or dog weighing 10 pounds gets all the nutrition she needs from 200 calories a day. A 50-pound dog only needs up to 900 calories daily to stay trim and healthy. This chart http://www.petobesityprevention.org/ideal-weight-ranges/ showing ideal weights for different breeds of dogs and cats helps to put things in perspective.
 
How to Help an Overweight Pet
The first thing to do is take control of the food dish. Use a measuring cup to give your pet only the amount of food he needs and don't refill the dish until it's time for the next meal. If you normally give your pet treats for every good behavior, start cutting back and offering him praise and attention instead.
 
Exercise is vitally important as well. Dogs need to walk or play vigorously for at least 30 minutes every day to burn off their excess energy. It also helps to curb destructive behavior and boost immunity. Cats sleep up to two-thirds of the day, so be sure to take advantage of awake time to play with your cat using string, laser pointer, or anything that gets her up and chasing something.
 
Check with Us Before Changing Your Pet's Diet 
If you're concerned about your pet's weight and want to put him on a diet, please schedule an appointment at Grantsburg Animal Hospital first. Dr. Palmquist will determine if you should switch foods or just cut back on the one your pet already receives. This is important because many pets are sensitive to food ingredients and may not tolerate a sudden change very well. Dr. Palmquist can also give you additional tips for weight loss. 

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